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You Can Now Grow Your Family Through Embryo Adoption

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You’ve heard of adoption, but have you heard of embryo adoption? With the help of modern medicine, there are more ways than ever before to build your family.


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Thanks to modern medicine, there’s now a new form of adoption that may be new to you— embryo adoption.

Embryos are fertilized eggs and hold all the potential to be born as healthy babies if nurtured. The growing popularity of in vitro fertilization also means a growing bank of surplus embryos. Upon completing their family-building goals, couples who pursued in vitro may find themselves with more embryos than they hope to give birth to, paying high fees to keep the frozen embryos viable. Currently, there’s approximately 700,000-1,000,000 surplus frozen embryos in America. The handling of these embryos can be a delicate subject, especially for those coming from a pro-life perspective, believing that embryos are babies whose lives deserve to be protected.

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One incredibly beautiful option is for families to place their surplus embryos up for adoption. Organizations like Snowflakes and the National Embryo Donation Center help both adoptive parents and donors alike.

I sat down with Lynette Weaver, who’s currently pregnant with her first child, an adopted embryo, to learn more about the process.

How did you learn about embryo adoption?

For 10 years, I’ve had it on my heart to adopt. I’ve explored various options over the years, but the timing wasn’t quite right. Then, I learned about Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. After years of trying to conceive, a dear friend of mine achieved pregnancy through in vitro and now has three children. They still have frozen embryos and are praying about placing them for adoption. When I heard that couples could select a home for their remaining embryos, giving them a chance at life, my heart leapt. We cried together at this possibility—for what it means for both the donors and adopters. It didn’t feel right for me to adopt her embryos, it was just too close to home. However, I immediately started exploring the process and decided to pursue it.

What made this compelling to you?

I’ve always loved children, desiring to be a mom as far back as I can recall. My mom’s the oldest of six, so as I grew up, whenever our extended family gathered, there was always a new baby around who was sure to get all my attention!

I thought for sure I’d have my own children by the time I was 25… and then 30… and then 35. Turns out, life hasn’t quite unfolded that way. I’m currently 40 and haven’t yet met my husband. I’m so grateful for the rich experiences I’ve enjoyed as a woman who isn’t yet married; the freedom to travel, my dedication to serving others, my deep friendships. I believe I’ll marry one day, but I have complete peace moving forward to become a mother now.

I transferred one embryo and am currently thrilled to be 20-weeks pregnant with a precious baby boy!

About a decade ago, I felt called to adopt. I remember sitting in church, hearing James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows.” In that moment I felt God’s presence on my heart… softening it, preparing it, etching it with a deep desire to love my adopted child(ren) one day as if they were my very own flesh.

Discovering that I could actually experience pregnancy, begin caring for an adopted child from the womb and answer the prayer of a genetic family; it blew my mind. I knew this was my path.

What are the challenges of this path?

Firstly, embryo adoption is a financial commitment and pregnancy isn’t guaranteed. The cost mirrors traditional domestic adoption, including the medical expenses affiliated with in vitro. At first, I didn’t have the finances for this journey, but I acted in faith and God provided. The very day I submitted my initial $500 fee, a dear friend arrived on my doorstep with a $500 check. She said God prompted her to give this to me. There’s been so much miraculous provision like that ever since.

As with any adoption, there’s a lot of waiting and many emotional rollercoasters. I began in June 2016, focusing on the paperwork, education, background check, home study and family profile; all the prerequisites to be matched with a placing family. Then, it was another six months to complete the matching, the legal paperwork and the wait for the embryos to arrive at my fertility clinic before I could begin the embryo transfer cycle.

Embryo-Adoption

Image by Jessica Cole. Used with permission.

And what’s been your outcome of pursuing embryo adoption?

In February 2017, I was matched with a beautiful family and was chosen to adopt two embryos. The embryos arrived that June and I had my first embryo transfer. Upon thawing, one embryo didn’t survive. The second was transferred but unfortunately didn’t result in a pregnancy. Although it was heartbreaking, I knew my journey wasn’t over. Statistically, it takes 2-3 tries for a successful pregnancy.

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That August, I re-entered the matching phase, waiting for another placing family. In January 2018, my new set of adopted embryos arrived. I transferred one embryo and am currently thrilled to be 20-weeks pregnant with a precious baby boy!  I’m over the moon, looking forward to the life ahead with my son. I’ll continue communicating through Snowflakes with the placing family. While matching, Snowflakes facilitates conversations around what communication plan both families agree upon. In our case, I’ll send the placing family annual photos and updates through Snowflakes until the child(ren) turn 18. Then, it’s up to the child(ren) to determine the contact they’d like to have.

I have remaining frozen embryos, so if I want more children in the future I can transfer another embryo, having a full biological sibling(s) for my son. Snowflakes requires that when I know my family is complete, that l return the remaining embryos to be placed with a new adoptive family.

Lynette, talking to you about this journey has brought tears to my eyes. It’s so incredible how God answered your prayers to adopt. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your son is already so loved and so lucky to have you as his mom.